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South Floridians prepare for Hurricane Matthew

Hurricane, topical storm warnings issued for South Florida

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – It's a sight that’s all too familiar during hurricane season -- long lines at grocery stores, banks and gas stations.

On Tuesday, portions of South Florida were placed under hurricane and tropical strom warnings as Hurricane Matthew, a powerful Category 4 storm, worked its way across the Caribbean.

"We're basically buying canned goods, water, and getting the shutters ready," said Esther Rivera as she bought water at a Winn-Dixie.  

County leaders, along with state officials, are warning people to have enough water to last each family member and their pets three days.  The same goes for nonperishable food items and medications.

Residents are advised that tap water is safe to drink as long as there isn’t a boil water warning in effect.      

People are taking the advice of officials seriously. By noon on Tuesday, some 2,000 people had visited a Costco in Pembroke Pines. 

A Publix in Plantation ran out of bottled water by 11 a.m. due to high demands.

"I've got six of these 24-packs of water. We're four at home, so just in case," Julio Moss said while shopping for supplies.  

Officials also remind residents not to forget can openers, paper goods, batteries, gas and first-aid kits.

Some precautions include bringing anything the wind may pick up inside the house. This includes lawn furniture, sports equipment and flowerpots. Turn your refrigerator and freezer to their highest settings, and know where to go in case of an evacuation order.

It's also recommended that people check with their insurance carriers for any special hurricane instructions. 

As residents prepared for the storm, county officials got their emergency plans in motion.

Officials in Miami-Dade and Broward counties have begun the task of putting up barricades and shutting down roads in preparation for Matthew.

"Right now the message is: Be prepared for tropical storm-force winds on Thursday, (and) make sure you have food and water for three days," Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said.

Gimenez said he is aware of complaints of price gouging and that he and other officials are looking into the issue. 

Some municipalities that are prone to flooding, such as Doral and North Miami, gave residents free sandbags in preparation for the storm.   

Officials are asking boat owners to leave enough rope tied to their boats to allow them to move with rising waters. 

As Matthew inches closer to South Florida there is a concern about power outages. Florida Power and Light officials said they're ready for the storm. 

"We have 6,300 workers ready to start responding as soon as it's safe to do so," FPL spokeswoman Florencia Contesse said. "Right now we're making our final preparations, and we encourage our customers to do that as well." 

Contesse recommends that people who are  preparing their homes for the storm by putting up shutters or perfoming other tasks to keep 10 feet away from power lines. 

"In addition, if they have any family members that depend on electrically powered life-sustaining equipment, it's important they make preparations ahead of time, or make plans to relocate," she said. 

The last major storm to pass through South Florida was Wilma in 2005. FPL line specialist Esteban Perez said improvements have been made since then that allows crew to pinpoint who is out of power and allow them to restore power sooner. 

On Monday, Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for all of Florida’s 67 counties, a sign that officials are taking Matthew’s threat seriously.